As we day by day adjust to the many changes we are experiencing, I wanted to reach out to all of you.
First of all, I want you to know I am available via email while Seton is closed. If you or your child need me to call, just let me know in your email and I will respond as soon as I am able to do so.
Secondly, I want to acknowledge that change can trigger anxiety and stress for adults and children. We are in a time of unprecedented change and “unknowns”. Please think about the last time you were on a plane and they did the safety briefing, and travelers with children were told “in case of emergency, put on your mask first, and then assist your child.” It is important as the adults in our families that we are taking care of ourselves and modeling a positive attitude to our changed circumstances.
Being home together may be a blessing that weeks ago you had wished for with everyone’s busy schedules with work/school/homework/church/sports/activities etc, it may also be a bit more challenging than expected.
–In stressful times, experts say that it is vital to keep to a schedule as much as possible. Each family is different, but if you can provide some structure for your family it will be very helpful to your children. For example, eating meals at the same times you did before, having a regular “school” study time during the day, designated blocks of time to pray, and specific time to play outside and relax. Perhaps you might also need to add blocks of time, with Dad at work and Mom at work, for those of you trying to work from home. Some families actually find it helpful to post the new schedule for everyone to see. Perhaps, consider having a daily/or weekly Family Check In –a SHORT family meeting to see how everyone is doing, any issues that need to be discussed, and end with something positive like a joke-a-thon or a family game or movie together.
–Exercise is very important for positive mental health and a great stress relief. There are many online free exercise programs you can explore for your kids or perhaps exercise together as a family for fun! Spring is here–while we can and with safe social distancing, go for a walk in the neighborhood, ride bikes, or go for a hike.
–Pump Me Up Dates w Mom/Dad–set aside a once a week time to spend 30 min. individually with each child to see how they are doing, encourage them, let them know what you see positive in their character (focus on the positive!) and share how specifically you are praying for them (positive things).
–Thinking of others is also a helpful way to redirect anxious thoughts. Brainstorm what your family could do to support elderly or health compromised individuals in your neighborhood. Could your kids go sing to them outside their window? Could they rake their yard? Could you do grocery runs for them? All our kids know how to write encouraging notes for Spiritual Bouquets…how about having them write notes to hospital staff nearby? Or call a local senior center and “adopt a grandparent” to write to or call/skype/facetime with? Maybe draw pictures, write uplifting quotes or make posters to encourage the senior citizen staff/residents? Remember our low income brothers and sisters and gather around the kitchen table and decorate 3 x 5 cards and take them to your county’s emergency food distribution and have the cards included in their meals? Or, maybe have your kids go through their clothes and toys and see what they can give away.
–Music can also have a positive impact and a calming effect. Perhaps have gentle classical or Christian music playing softly in different parts of your house.
–Let the creativity flow. Let the kids plan (and cook a meal), let them build those fun giant pillow forts, let them plant seeds in the backyard for a flower garden (quick go buy seeds/bulbs now before everything closes) or maybe this is the time to paint that bedroom or have the kids reorganize their bookshelf.
–Our kids are disappointed about fun things that have been cancelled or postponed–sports, clubs, play practice, perhaps their outside job. Acknowledge that disappointment and loss and then help them see “the glass half full, not half empty” and help them see something good about the situation. Gratitude is often the opposite of disappointment, maybe you might make a family Gratitude Jar that each night all family members write one thing they are thankful for from that day on a slip of paper and add it to the jar. On Sunday during your previously regular Mass time, empty your Gratitude Jar and have fun reading what everyone wrote.
–Additionally, below are two links with some helpful information to assist families in dealing with stress or anxiety regarding the COVID-19 (Coronavirus). The first link takes you to a document that contains specific guidelines in dealing with the new virus as well as how to ease children’s anxiety by “Teaching children positive preventive measures, talking with them about their fears, and giving them a sense of some control over their risk of infection…” The second link directs you to a video from Divine Mercy University also containing information and techniques to consider in helping our children deal with the COVID-19 crisis.
Many things are out of our control right now, but there are things that we can control. Keep up your prayer life, think of ways to positively support your family’s needs, and consider how we can be a blessing to others.
I already miss seeing all the students…so if they are bored, they can also send me a shout out hello at email@example.com. I would also love to hear from you about things that are “working for your family” and/or ways you are serving others.
Rest in peace trusting our Heavenly Father is in control of all,